Neymar reveals Brazil ‘suffered’ in penalty shootout win over Chile
Brazil striker Neymar has admitted that he and his team-mates were made to suffer throughout their dramatic victory over Chile in the last 16 of the World Cup.
The hosts booked their place in the quarter-finals of the competition courtesy of a 3-2 penalty shoot-out win over their South American rivals after a superb and tense encounter that ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra-time.
Barcelona forward Neymar, who suffered a heavy challenge from Chile’s Charles Aranguiz early in the game but played on and scored what proved to be the decisive penalty for his country, said afterwards that he had gone through emotional torment during the game.
"We really suffered. It was pure emotion," he said. "My tears after the game were of happiness.
"We know that it was not one of our best matches but the desire to win and get through to the next round that we showed was huge. It was the most I have ever suffered in football.
"Today I had everything. I took a knock, I had cramp. Now all I want to do is rest."
Despite the pressure on him as a result of the expectations of the home fans, Neymar insisted that he played without fear in Belo Horizonte.
"I felt no fear. Fear removes the desire to win. We knew that we would be playing a great team, but there was no fear," he added.
Neymar stepped up to take his winning penalty knowing that missing would give Chile a chance to win the tie with their final spot-kick, but the 22-year-old sent goalkeeper Claudio Bravo the wrong way before Gonzalo Jara struck his effort against the post.
Afterwards, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari praised the mental strength of his star player.
"He is 22 but he plays as if he were 35. He handles the pressure naturally. He is so strong mentally and you could see even when we was 17 or 18 that he was ready," said Scolari.
"He just enjoys playing football. He took that penalty as though he were having a kick-about at home in Santos."
The early challenge on Neymar has left him nursing a slight injury but Scolari is hopeful it will not be enough to cause him to miss the quarter-final against Colombia in Fortaleza next Friday.
"We need to evaluate it but we should have three, four or five days to try and make sure he can play the next game," added Scolari.